Shire of Coolgardie
39km SW of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
In late August 1892, at a site known as Fly Flat, prospectors Arthur Bayley and William Ford found more than 500oz of gold.
Just over two weeks later, on 17 September, Bayley registered his claim in Southern Cross, 187km away. Worth about $800,000 at today’s values, the find triggered the last great Australian gold rush. It revived Western Australia’s struggling economy and almost quadrupled the State’s population within a decade.
Coolgardie was gazetted in 1893 and, by 1898, was the State’s third largest population centre with 15,000 residents and at least another 10,000 in the district. In 1899 the town celebrated its mining industry with a World Exhibition attended by more than 61,000 people.
At its peak in 1900 Coolgardie had 23 hotels, three breweries, six banks, a hospital, two stock exchanges, a wide range of businesses and three daily and four weekly newspapers. There were electric street lights, the first public swimming pool in the State and 700 mining companies registered with the London Stock Exchange.
The name Coolgardie is said to be derived from the Aboriginal word "Coolcaby", meaning a mulga tree near a waterhole. Another possibility is "Coorgardie", the Aboriginal name for a large lizard. Over the years, Coolgardie has also been known as Bayley's Find, Fly Flat and The Old Camp.
Coolgardie’s gold production diminished in the early 1900s and by 1914 the town was in decline. By 1980, its population down to about 200, Coolgardie was almost a ghost town.
Coolgardie, known as the Mother of the Goldfields in honour of its position as the first town of the Eastern Goldfields, is today home to approximately 1,200 residents.
Gazetted in 1897, Bonnie Vale was the site of the Varischetti mine rescue of 1907, when Italian miner Modesto Varischetti was trapped for nine days in a flooded mine, surviving in an air pocket until rescued.
Gold was discovered in the area in 1895 and Kununalling was gazetted in 1896. The ruins of a hotel and three chimneys are all that remain of the town, which at its peak at the end of the 19th century had a population of about 800.